The Autistic Boy's Hate Letter

1376949742000-autistic-hatemailHate letters have sunk to a new low, especially when it involves harassing a family whose child have autism. In Canada, an anonymous hate letter was slipped under the door of Maxwell Bagley's grandmother who takes care of him frequently. Matthew, who is 13, was accused of making squealing noises that annoyed the hatemonger.  Autism is a developmental disorder with different spectrum levels. Most children with this disorder are easily annoyed by commotion and other environmental factors. Matthew's squealing noises and "animal-like" behavior as the author suggests is not uncommon in a child with autism.

I have always believed that discrimination and other forms of hatred is rooted in fear. It's very easy to be afraid of something you don't understand. However, the author of this atrocious letter telling the family to "euthanize" this child is totally inexcusable. The thing I dislike most about this letter is that the author is speaking for the whole community. Are the statements made the author's personal view or is the author really speaking on behalf of their community? Either way, the same energy it took to write the letter and slip it under the door could have been used in reaching out to the boy and his family.

Karla Begley, Matthew's mom, was very distraught when she read the letter. As a parent of two autistic boys, I can totally understand her pain. A parent of any child (disabled or not) would be distraught at any news that discriminates their child. Ms. Begley has multiple sclerosis which is a challenge by itself. I'm sure this letter is the last thing she need on her plate.

Behavior in an autistic child is very unpredictable. One moment they are fine and in an instant their behavior can change. Each household in this case is different regarding their approach in creating a calm environment for themselves as well as their neighbors. A great way to establish harmony with neighbors is to inform them early on about autism. Developing an understanding makes it easier for everyone to make adjustments, not allowances, as the author thinks. The author made a crude remark that parents of autistic children believe they should receive preferential treatment because of it. That is further from the truth. The author probably believe that we purposely allow our children to "behave" that way.

The author states that Matthew's squealing noises made their children afraid. Children for the most part are very understanding of other children with special needs when it is explained properly. I witnessed small children snickering at my son Kameron once when he was having a meltdown. I kindly asked the parent of one of the children if it was okay that I explained Kameron's behavior to them, so they wouldn't feel uncomfortable anymore when they saw him. The situation worked out great and there were no problems ever since.

It was not reported if the Begley family ever communicated with their neighbors regarding Matthew. If they didn't, it's still not fair or just for the author of that letter to pass judgment on the child and his family. None of this would have happened if the situation was assessed from day one.

 

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